OUR sex Lives can be a complex and wonderful part of our identities, but they can also bring anxiety and discomfort.
This is especially true for people who identify as female and suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – like me – a hormonal condition that affects the functioning of a person’s ovaries, among other things(opens in a new tab).
Misinformation about PCOS(opens in a new tab) is prevalent on social media, making it difficult to know who to turn to when looking for specific information about your symptoms.
If you suffer from PCOS, it can affect many areas of your sex life(opens in a new tab)due to its relationship to female sexual dysfunction (FSD). Experts say(opens in a new tab) that FSD can impact your levels of sexual desire, lubrication, and your ability to reach orgasm.
So while people with PCOS face other areas of our sexual awakening and self-actualization, we’ve added obstacles to encounter.
How are PCOS and sexual dysfunction related?
“The hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS, including high androgen levels and disrupted estrogen and progesterone levels, may contribute to sexual dysfunction by affecting vaginal lubrication and arousal,” says gynecologist Dr. Katerina Shkodzik and expert in reproductive endocrinology.
It is not widely known that female sexual dysfunction is a very common symptom of PCOS(opens in a new tab), which means that many of us are ashamed to come up against these physical and mental barriers. And, as sex therapist Madalaine Munro aptly puts it, “a lack of information and support can lead to feelings of guilt and frustration, perpetuating a cycle of helplessness.”
So a range of sex therapists and PCOS experts have weighed in on different ways to boost your sex life, if various symptoms – especially issues with low desire, lubrication, orgasm and irregular periods – are holding you back.
If a lack of lubrication cause of pain or discomfort, sex therapist Rhiannon John recommends prioritizing masturbation “to figure out what you like and what turns you on,” keep a good quality lube on hand, and try therapy a physical therapist’s pelvic floor, which focuses on treating painful sex and can help manage abdominal pain, pelvic pain and painful periods.
She also advocates trying some sex positions that help reduce lubrication levels: “Whether you’re having sex with a penis owner or with a strap-on, some helpful positions to try are the spoon position, because the angle of the penis is often shallower and less painful, or you can try to be on top, because that way you can control the depth and angle of penetration.”
For sexual partners with vulvas, John recommends “tribadism, also known as scissors or tribbing. This position involves rubbing the vulva against the partner’s vulva, thighs, or other body parts, which can increase arousal and lubrication.”
The ultimate guide to scissors
Lubrication issues can lead to orgasm problems, or you can experience them independently. Relationship and psychosexual therapist Jodie Slee recommends prioritizing kissing and touching, spending “lots of time on genital stimulation with the hands, mouth, or sex toys.”
She also suggests trying edging: “an orgasm control technique where a person comes to the point where they are about to orgasm, then stops the stimulation, waits, then starts again.” Slee says it’s a great method to try because it can achieve a higher state of arousal and increase the likelihood of a greater amount of vaginal lubrication.
Seeking help for this form of a psychosexual therapist could also be helpful, says Slee, particularly focusing on determining your “pauses” and “accelerators,” essentially what takes you away from sex and what keeps you there. close. She calls this process “getting to the heart of the matter psychology of your sexual desire.“
What causes vaginal dryness?
Cultivate your desire
Dr. Jolene Brighten, endocrinologist and author of Beyond the pill, a comprehensive guide to female hormones, explains that problems with desire — a common problem among people with PCOS — can be rooted in the “looker.” It refers to over-focusing on yourself from a stranger’s perspective during sex, rather than focusing on yourself and your partner in the moment. It can be related to body confidence issuesthinking about what others may think of your sexual activity, interfering with desire and arousal.
Brighten recommends “practices based on mindfulness and sexual meditation,” which are effective ways to increase sexual satisfaction, arousal, and desire for people with PCOS. “These practices help improve sexual functioning because they force people to focus on body sensations before and during sex,” Brighten explains.
The shame of menstruation
Many people with PCOS experience irregular periods(opens in a new tab), which can cause anxiety around sexual activity, with one partner in particular. While period sex may not be for everyone, worth standardizing and exploring, if possible.
“It’s essential that you give yourself permission to experience pleasure during your period,” John says, recommending trying it in the shower with a partner to wash away any liquids, or buying a blood-absorbing sex blanket. and other liquids.
It may also work to treat and combat some of the more unpleasant symptoms of FSD experienced with PCOS. “THE increased sensitivity during menstruation(opens in a new tab) can lead to increased arousal and more intense orgasms. Plus, the natural lubrication that occurs during this time can make penetration more comfortable and enjoyable,” says Munro.
In addition to expert advice, however, what is needed on a larger scale when it comes to PCOS and sexual dysfunction is increased disease awareness, discussion and research.
“(It) would mean that PCOS would be better understood, treatment would become more effective, and there would be a lot more awareness and less shame and embarrassment around the disease and its symptoms,” says Ref. “We still have a long way to go when it comes to talking about the impact of PCOS on other areas of our health, such as mental and sexual health.”
How to have sex during your period
Moreover, so many problems in the world of sex stem from its representation – or lack thereof – in the realm of sex education. According to Cooper, we would all benefit from better education about what exactly PCOS is and how it could affect our bodies and our sex lives.
“For something that can affect one in five women, it really should be taught in sex education so that individuals are more aware of how it can affect them throughout their lives,” Cooper said.
So, in addition to committing to helping our bodies overcome any sexual dysfunction that PCOS may cause us, we must advocate for more conversations, education and research – so that our sex life is not held back by shame. or silence.